Monday, September 22, 2008

An experiment: Issues for contructing a Semantic Web of simple acronym definitions

I am still not prepared to dive deep into a full-blown attempt to build a knowledge web using Semantic Web technologies, but I have been thinking a lot lately about exploring even a very simple example in some depth. In recent years I spent a lot of energy trying to build up a list of terms related to software agent technology and related technologies. One small subset of that effort related to compiling acronyms and their definitions. Tackling the full problem of converting the term definitions to the Semantic Web is too monumental a project for me to contemplate at this time, but at least tackling the ontological issues and representational issues of acronyms seems more manageable.

Alas, as soon as I considered such a modest project I very quickly realized that there are many issues that I do not yet have answers to. I will begin incrementally tackling this project and documenting my progress here on this blog. The eventual goal is to have something that really is part of the Semantic Web, but my main intention is to deeply explore the issues rather than rush to some "hacked", compromised, partial solution that really only partially exploits the true power of the Semantic Web and may not really advance the science of deeper knowledge webs at all. In other words, I will delay actual "coding" (e.g., RDF triples and XML schemas, and OWL ontologies) for as long as possible so that I can focus on thoroughly hashing out the conceptual issues.

The problem statement is fairly simple: Identify and address the issues with conceptualizing, communicating, understanding, manipulating, and representing acronyms and their definitions on the Semantic Web.

It sure sounds simple... as simple as ABC... ABC = Agent-Based Computing... what could be simpler and easier? Actually, I will leave that as an open question: what meaningful project that advances the science of knowledge webs could be easier than figuring out an optimal solution for representing acronyms and their definitions?

If your interest is looking up acronyms yourself, check out Acronym Finder, which bills itself as "the world's largest and most comprehensive dictionary of abbreviations and acronyms." They say that they have over 600,000 "human-edited definitions." Very impressive. I am sure that I will find it to be a useful tool in some of my research. But... it is not a part of the Semantic Web. It is a traditional Web site.

-- Jack Krupansky


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